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Mania for FreedomAmerican Literatures of Enthusiasm from the Revolution to the Civil War$
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John Mac Kilgore

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629728

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629728.001.0001

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The Revival of Revolt

The Revival of Revolt

Conjure, Slave Insurrection, and the Novel of Enthusiasm

(p.130) Chapter Four The Revival of Revolt
Mania for Freedom

John Mac Kilgore

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the historical role that African and Afro-Protestant revival and conjure religion played in fomenting slave rebellions in the Americas. Pointing to the influence that slave insurrections had on antebellum antislavery novels in the wake of the sectional crisis, the author establishes the historical and theoretical grounds for what he calls the novel of enthusiasm. He does this in two ways. First, the chapter explores the cross-fertilization between black cultures of enthusiasm and emergent Romantic sensibilities in nineteenth-century aesthetics, especially the novel. Second, the chapter analyzes two interconnected prose works as novels of enthusiasm (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Dred and Martin Delany’s Blake), both of which link cultures of slave insurrection to cultures of enthusiasm and uniquely place US black resistance in a transatlantic context among insurgent maroons. Furthermore, the author contends that Stowe and Delany turn novel writing itself into an enthusiastic contact zone (of call and response) with the reader, soliciting us to speed up the political crisis of slavery through direct intervention.

Keywords:   Conjure, slave insurrection, novel of enthusiasm, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Martin Delany

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